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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Religion

Shock! Samson Agonistes is obsessed with religion. Okay, now that you've recovered from that mind-blowing announcement, let's check out exactly how this theme gets deployed: lots of talk about God;...

Suffering

Here's another no-brainer: opening with lines that describe our protagonist as both blind and imprisoned, it's pretty obviously that Samson Agonistes is about suffering. But just in case you need c...

Guilt and Blame

No one wins the blame game. But, if there's one thing that seems to unite every character in Samson Agonistes, it's that they're all trying to blame someone else for the situation they're in. Even...

Strength and Skill

It's a bird, it's a plane... it's Samson! Okay, you got us: he's not actually Superman, but from the way some of the characters describe Samson's previous mojo, he's not so far off. Saving his peop...

Fate and Free Will

If we could only take one fact about tragedies to our desert island (don't ask), it would probably be—you can't escape fate. In Greek mythology, the concept of fate was personified by a trio of g...

Mortality

By the time we get to the end of Samson Agonistes, it's clear that we're dealing with questions of life and death. And not just literal death. Samson spends as much time describing his current life...

Marriage

Sadly for Samson, something that might have been one happy part of his life turned out to be the absolute worst. disaster. ever. (Fun fact: Milton was drawing on personal experience here. He was on...

Change

The more Samson changes, the more he stays the same... or something like that. Change and stasis (non-change) are two big, oppositional pulls that, confusingly, both seem to be at work in this stor...
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